By Elizabeth Prata
A dear sister asked me about a new author. Her discernment radar is always up, and she is cautious about who she absorbs. In reading my answer I hope any ladies will gain an understanding of not just about the person in question, but of how I go about checking an author or teacher. We read or listen to their actual content and compare it to the Bible first, of course, (Acts 17:11), but we also check a number of other items in the author or teacher’s life.
Hers was the first thing I read when I got up this morning, and it filled me with happiness! I love, love, love that she has such discernment and that she cares so deeply about making sure she’s absorbing God-glorifying material. It is a huge encouragement to me.
Shannon Popkin seems to be relatively new. Her twitter account is only 5 years old, and though she has written a few books, those are only 4 years old.
When I’m asked about a new author or teacher or one I want to research for myself, after I check what they are saying against the Bible, I do the following things–
–I looked at who blurbed or recommended Popkin’s books. Aside from her first book where Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian recommended, I literally knew no one else who recommended any of her books. Nancy and Mary aren’t solid. I put them into the ‘squishy’ category, not false but not the greatest.
–In the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon, I searched for “Jesus” and the word “sin” in Popkin’s book, and wonderfully, both those search terms came up a lot!! (If you want to get depressed, search for Jesus or sin or Gospel inside one of Beth Moore’s books and see how FEW times those search terms come up, and when they do, it’s not the proper context…). You can do the same search in Google Books, too. So that was good about Shannon’s book.
–I read portions of the book, using the “Look Inside” on Amazon, or on Google Books, to see if her teaching is scriptural.
–Popkin has a copious end notes. This is great. On the plus side she sources Kevin DeYoung, RC Sproul, and John MacArthur. On the down side, she seems very influenced by Tim Keller, judging by how many end notes refer to him.
–I looked at who she is following on Twitter. She follows TD Jakes, Lisa Bevere, Passion Conferences and Saddleback church, Tony Evans, Aimee Byrd, (not good) but also Tom Schreiner. Tom is the only solid ‘famous’ person I saw on her following list. She might have certain reasons for choosing to follow those less than solid folks, but I added that negative clue to the pile anyway.
–Here is Popkin’s statement of faith, which I found attached to a speaking engagement she was doing. Within the statement also contains a link to her home church statement of faith, which she wrote she “is in full agreement with.” I was glad to see she is a member of and a regular attendee of a home church. You may be surprised to know that many of these ladies on the circuit are too busy with speaking engagements to worship at home regularly. This tells you something of their priorities. https://drive.google.com/file/d/194ZbPo10oGM_CbJf215NBZT6Rd765b2e/view
–Look at the person’s church web page. Popkin’s church seems to be a large campus multi-site, which could be a negative, but they do have an emphasis on membership and a hefty booklet for candidate members to read, and also a membership class. That was good. I also didn’t see any women in any unbiblical staff positions. There didn’t seem to be any women leading men in classes or ministries.
–I looked at who Popkin speaks with at conferences. Checking to see if she unequally yokes with false teachers at conferences and other ministries is also a clue. I didn’t know the women in any of the conferences I looked at, so I couldn’t really make a judgment in that regard.
At one of Popkin’s conferences her topic was about how to deliberately grow your platform influence, and this seems consistent with her usual topics:
5 Platform-Building Questions Every Christian Speaker & Writer Must Ask
Social media offers more opportunities to spread the light of Jesus than ever before–but it also presents new and unique challenges. We set out with a passion to serve others, share truth, and give of ourselves. Yet our good intentions are easily eclipsed by desires to promote ourselves, receive affirmation, and gain recognition.
Is there a way to gather followers and still follow Jesus? Is there a way to both take up our cross and build up our stats? Shannon Popkin believes there is. Come get guidance on these five questions, every speaker and writer must ask.
15 Minute Appointments: Shannon is an experienced speaker, writer, and blogger. Shannon would love to offer you encouragement or guidance on:
Your next message (spoken or written)
Discerning God’s direction or next steps
Plans to market your book
One of her books was completely about growing her platform. (Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates). I have a personal stance that I write what seems good to write, usually based on what I’m reading in the Bible and what the Spirit brings to mind thru that, and leave the growing to the Spirit. John MacArthur always said that he cares about the depth and leaves the breadth to the Spirit. Holy Spirit will take it to where it needs to go.
I am generally against deliberate platforming and growing your influence because I feel that’s the Spirit’s job. It is also a fad, and IMO not a great fad in Christianity. Her book seems to be asking the right questions, but again, straddles the fence with “I want to grow my platform, but stay humble so Christ is exalted.” I prefer reversing that to- “I want to first glorify Christ with the talent He gave me and secondly let the platform rise or not according to the Spirit’s desire.”
In scanning Popkin’s work, her associations, her activity on Social Media, her website, her topics of interest, and her church, I can gain an overall impression of the teacher or author.
My overall impression is that Shannon Popkin is one of these new breeds of Christian women: influencer, platformer, circuit-traveler, Christian-ish lifestyle, life-coach person. She could go either way- turn more biblically solid, or turn shallow celebrity. She seems to be early days, straddling the fence.
As with any author or teacher, read caution and open radar for discernment. If the material becomes confusing, or contradicts what you know, it is OK to abandon it. If it solidifies into something you discern is elevating and helpful, then do recommend. There are too few solid women’s ministries and teachers out there. When you find one, support her! 🙂
Michelle Lesley has a links to some solid ministries for women